By Zeeshan Rasool Khan
Terms like Kashmir imbroglio, Kashmir issue are not new but exist right from the day when instrument of accession was signed. Since then there has been series of changes in political scenario however, the dimensions and contours of this issue has not gone through any transformation. After India succeeded in containing the insurgency and restoring normalcy after 1990’s turbulence through her military might, it was beyond its imagination that Kashmir would erupt once again.
The face of the new age militancy was Burhan Muzaffar Wani , whose name echoed in the highest international forum’s as the UN General assembly and who animated people of Kashmir to rise again for their rights promised to them –the Right to Self-determination and thus provided impetus to the struggle that was believed to have died down. The world witnessed the development that took place in Kashmir after his death. The uprising that emanated from his death vanished the memories of the 1990’s rebellion and provided new life and direction to the movement.
Kashmir was put under siege for months; hundreds were killed and thousands detained. This did not serve the purposes of India. And after a year, there has not been any good news for India that could have evolved from Kashmir after the use of force .Instead, the Kashmiri movement adopted new shape and seems to more intense than previous uprisings. Anti-India protests have become the norm with youth showing interest in the struggle again. From April 2017 , schools ,colleges have remained closed for most of the time .There have been only eight working days in the month of May in these institutions ,not because resistance leaders called for boycott of schools but because of fear of student protests by the administration and its inability to tackle these protests .
Moreover, after Burhan Wani’s death, Kashmiris have become emboldened to face Indian intellectuals and think tanks more effectively than the past. Negating integral part oratory was considered blasphemy and was believed to cost life imprisonment or death sentence however there has been complete change in narrative. Boldness and articulation of intellectuals and analysts have be contrary to past when Kashmiri panelists used to hide the facts when appearing on TV screen.
One more change in mindset of Kashmiris and perhaps the biggest challenge for India that it has posed are the protests at encounter sites. Yes, nerves of fear have got desensitized to such an extent that whenever an encounter takes place between militants and Army, people storm encounter sites to protect militants whom they consider brave hearts. This is despite the Indian Army Chief’s open intimidation, “That anyone interfering in encounter would be treated like over ground worker and punished like militants’ but unexpectedly it had almost no impact. Conversely, there has been an escalation in protests on encounter sites. Almost, in every encounter, civilians are either killed or rendered wounded before facing militants and this has completely punctured the balloon of Indian idea that Kashmiri militants are terrorists .Yes, for them, they may be but for masses they are no less than heroes, befitting the saying : Someone’s terrorist is another one’s Hero.
Furthermore, the impact of the resistance triumvirate also seems to be fading with every passing day; people no more wait for strike calls and calendars ,they observe shut down, come to streets to mark protest on their own. Recently, some of these leaders were raided and allegations made of scams but the common masses were unmoved, there was no break in expression of resentment. This is an indication that the movement has been become purely people’s movement and not of trio as was it treated. This is considered as major shift in movement of Kashmir.
In nutshell, it is evident that the Kashmir struggle that has entered into the fourth generation that the Kashmir issue can neither be brushed off nor it can it be put to the back burner. The people of Kashmir can neither be repressed nor subjugated. Moreover, bloodshed, killing of Burhan Wani and his ilk is not the treatment to the issue. Had it been the solution, Kashmir would not have erupted more intensely than the past after witnessing blood of its people flowing down the roads, chastity of its women being assaulted and its men and women losing their sons and daughters. Had the imposition of black laws, use of lethal weapons and coercive arm been a solution, the conflict, would not have been issue at all and may have been eliminated years back but nothing like that happened .
India must understand the fact if an issue is not addressed it will always remain an issue on time .Time and again, Kashmir demands India to shun its ego and grant it opportunity to decide its fate. This is only the solution to this seven decade long conflict.
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]